15 min read
OLIPOP: A Better Soda - Not a Diet Soda
Drawn in by the appeal of zero sugar and zero calories, about one in five Americans enjoy a diet soda every single day.1 While a regular can of soda has around 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar, diet soda uses artificial sweeteners to offer its drinkers a “healthier alternative”. However, does having “zero” on the label really make diet soda a healthier choice?
In a world where you only have these two options, the answer is yes. But, thankfully, we don’t live in that world. That’s because today, you have access to healthier beverages like OLIPOP.
But what about OLIPOP makes it different from diet soda? Join us as we tackle the history of soda and how our pop at OLIPOP manages to fulfill the healthy promise that diet soda never could.
Why Were Diet Sodas Created?
Soda got its start back in the 1700s as a medicinal health tonic designed to cure all sorts of ailments. But as time went on, soda makers started adding ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, caramel coloring, and chemical preservatives to boost flavor and extend shelf life. As a result, what once was a health tonic turned into something with the opposite effect.
Around 1942, concerns began to grow about the potential negative health impacts of sugar-filled soda.2 This, along with the accidental discoveries of the artificial sweeteners Saccharin in 1897, Cyclamate in 1937, and eventually Aspartame in 1965, led to the creation of diet sodas in the 1950s.3
The first diet soda to hit the market was No-Cal. Created in 1952, No-Cal used the now-banned artificial sweetener cyclamate, so consumers with diabetes and cardiovascular problems could enjoy a soda without sugar.4 Shortly after the emergence of No-Cal, Diet Rite was released in 1958, a no-sugar, artificially sweetened competitor.
In the early days of diet soda, you wouldn’t find No-Cal or Diet Rite next to other soda brands in the grocery store.4 Instead, you’d find these diet beverages in the pharmacy positioned next to medicine. That’s because they were originally marketed as a no-sugar alternative for those with health concerns, harkening back to the days of the “health tonic” soda.
But it wasn’t long until these brands recognized the value of marketing themselves as “diet” beverages. As a result, companies quickly shifted gears and began positioning their beverages as the ultimate drink for dieters.5
Fast forward to today and you still have this aggressively marketed strong diet culture with diet beverages front and center. The only difference now is that the industry is moving away from the more traditionally female-focused “diet” label to capture a broader audience with new launches like “Coke Zero”.6 But there has been no subsequent upgrade or change to the ingredients in Coke Zero, as it contains practically the identical ingredients to what you’ll find in a Diet Coke.
So instead of seizing an opportunity to make meaningful changes and create a truly healthier soda alternative, big soda continues to position “zero sugar” as the solution. But how much of a “solution” is a beverage that contains artificial ingredients with no nutritional value?
Why Was OLIPOP Created?
This question about the nutritional value of artificial sweeteners stuck with our OLIPOP co-founders, Ben and David. They refused to believe that sugar and artificial sweeteners were the only two options. There had to be another way to satisfy your sweet tooth without throwing off your gut or drinking more than your daily limit of sugar in one can.
In their search for research-backed ingredients, they put together a team of some of the top microbiome researchers in the world. What resulted was OLIPOP, a functional and delicious soda that combines the rich, sweet, and bubbly flavors you know and love with the complex nutrients you need. In other words, it tastes just like the soda you grew up sipping, but with the added benefit of microbiome and digestive health support.
At OLIPOP we’re charging into the future by looking at the past and taking soda back to its original iteration: a healthy and delicious drink. We’ve taken a drink traditionally dominated by processed sugar and artificial ingredients and made it into a nutritious and tasty experience. That’s because at OLIPOP we know that life is too short to load up on unnecessary sugar and drink a soda with zero nutrition. But it’s also too short not to satisfy your sweet cravings.
But what makes us so different from a can of diet soda? Let’s dive in to find out:
Diet Soda vs. OLIPOP: Calories
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame-K give diet soda its sweet taste with none of the calories. However, this is because the body can't metabolize them and they're anywhere from 200 to 600 times sweeter than table sugar. This makes them a popular zero-calorie or low-calorie sugar alternative, but renders them almost completely useless with regards to nutrition.
Diet or “zero sugar” sodas are of course quick to advertise “zero calories” as a positive benefit of drinking their beverage due to a toxic diet culture equating the measurement of calories to the measurement of health.
But if something has zero calories it’s quite literally offering zero nutritional value. There is nothing healthy about a diet soda because there is nothing nutritional about a diet soda. It’s the equivalent of realizing you spend too much time watching TV, but instead of getting up and doing something else, you sit on the couch with the TV off. Sure, you’re not watching TV anymore, but you’re still sitting on the couch.
So instead of focusing on the number of calories, let’s focus on the quality of those calories. OLIPOP, for example, has 35 calories in every can.
But those 35 calories come from our nutritious lineup of ingredients such as our OLISMART in-house proprietary blend of eight botanicals, plant fibers, and prebiotics. So instead of sipping on zero nutrition, with Olipop, you’re enjoying over 9g of dietary fiber every time you pop open a can.
Diet Soda vs. OLIPOP: Ingredients
So what exactly are you putting in your body every time you throw back a can of diet soda? Well, unlike OLIPOP, most soda companies aren’t partnering with leading microbiome researchers and spending years formulating a nutritious beverage that tastes great. And a quick look at the back label of the leading brands of diet soda confirms this.
Here are the ingredients you’ll find in a can of Diet Coke:
- Carbonated water
- Caramel color
- Phosphoric acid
- Potassium benzoate
- Natural flavors
- Citric acid
Image source: Mel Magazine
As evidenced by these made-in-a-lab-sounding ingredients, there is nothing nutritive about a diet soda. The ingredients above are either providing a sweet flavor, or preservatives helping to extend shelf life. There is not one product in there that any health expert would deem “healthy”.
Now let’s take a look at the back label of our OLIPOP Vintage Cola for comparison. Here are the ingredients you’ll find:
- Carbonated water
- OLISMART (Cassava root fiber, chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, nopal cactus, calendula flower, kudzu root, marshmallow root, slippery elm bark)
- Cassava root syrup
- Apple juice concentrate
- Lime juice
- Organic natural cola flavor
- Alpha galangal root
- Stevia leaf
- Himalayan pink salt
- Green tea caffeine
- Natural vanilla flavor
- Natural caramel flavor
As you can see, we don’t use high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners (or artificial anything for that matter!) to give it that soda-sweet taste. Our squad of delicious soda flavors has no more than 5g of added sugar per can and features natural sweeteners like cassava root syrup, sweet birch, real fruit juice, and stevia.
Take a peek inside the can to learn more about our amazing lineup of OLIPOP ingredients.
Diet Soda vs. OLIPOP: Function
Diet soda entered the market advertised as the healthier, sugar-free alternative to soda. It came with the promise that it would help you limit your sugar intake. And while diet soda does help limit your soda sugar intake it doesn’t “solve” the sugar addiction at the heart of so many of our health problems. Research indicates that increased artificial sweetener intake, due to its potency, can actually make you crave sweet things even more!7
And some research shows that there is a relationship between the consumption of artificial sweeteners found in diet soda, and a higher risk of certain health outcomes like type 2 diabetes or heart conditions like heart attacks and high blood pressure.8 9 10
Take this 19-year study on over 450,000 individuals across Europe as an example. Researchers found that those regularly consuming either sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened sodas were at a higher risk of mortality than those who didn’t drink any soda at all.11
If you head to our blog Top 4 Healthy Alternatives to Diet Soda we offer a few theories from the scientific community on why diet soda could be having such a negative effect.
Artificial sweeteners can also alter your gut microbiota and lead to glucose intolerance. This increases your risk of several metabolic health concerns.8 12 13 Some of the most popular artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas, like saccharin, acesulfame-K, and sucralose, are among the biggest culprits when it comes to the possible alteration of your gut microbiota.
While we need more research to fully understand these long-term effects, these early studies don’t exactly paint the picture of the “healthy alternative” that soda brands want you to believe.
For more information on artificial sweeteners, check out our blog post on Health Facts on Sugary Soda: The Truth about Artificial Sweeteners.
On the other hand, we formulated OLIPOP to make it easier for people to reach adequate daily fiber intake and make positive steps to support their digestive health. All by crafting a soda that’s easy to enjoy and share.
Thanks to over fifteen years of research, our functional formula combines up-to-date microbiome and digestive health science with the knowledge of top researchers around the world. Results from our in-vitro studies, conducted with Purdue University and Baylor College of Medicine, reveal OLIPOP's ability to increase diversity, promote good bacteria, and facilitate short-chain fatty acid production in the microbiome.
As the fastest-growing functional beverage in the United States, OLIPOP has contributed more than 75 million grams of prebiotic fiber to the American diet. And counting!
OLIPOP: The Healthier Soda Alternative
Diet soda focuses on the elimination of sugar and calories. At OLIPOP, we focus on the addition of functional ingredients. We support your microbiome and your digestive health while creating a healthy sweet taste that even a sugar-loaded soda can’t compete with.
So when you’re ready to replace your diet soda with a more delicious and healthier alternative, we’ll be here waiting for you!
Want to learn more about all the reasons why OLIPOP can be your healthier soda alternative? Check out OLIPOP Digest for all the latest resources, research, and information.
- Fakhouri, Tala H.I., et al. Consumption of Diet Drinks in the United States, 2009‒2010. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Nov. 2015, www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db109.htm.
- Bellis, Mary. (2020, August 26). The Troubled History of Soda Pop and Carbonated Beverages. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/introduction-to-soda-pop-1992433
- Gershenson, G. (2017, February 23). A Brief and Bizarre History of Artificial Sweeteners. Saveur. https://www.saveur.com/artificial-sweeteners/
- LaBarre, Suzanne. A Brief History of Tab, the Iconic Diet Soda That’s Headed to the Graveyard. Fast Company, 30 Nov. 2020, https://www.fastcompany.com/90580210/a-brief-history-of-tab-the-iconic-diet-soda-thats-headed-to-the-graveyard.
- Wiener-Bronner, Danielle. ‘Diet’ Soda Is Disappearing from Store Shelves. CNN, 14 Dec. 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/14/business-food/diet-soda-zero-sugar/index.html.
- Thompson, Derek. “Diet Coke’s Moment of Panic.” The Atlantic, 14 Jan. 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2018/01/diet-coke-new-can/550478/.
- Vani Hari, Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry’s Playbook and Reclaim Your Health (Hay House Inc, 2019).
- “Is Diet Soda Bad for You? Everything You Need to Know.” Medical News Today, Healthline Media, 31 July 2019, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325919.
- Cheng Chen, “Comment to ‘Sugar-Sweetened Beverage and Diet Soda Consumption and the 7-Year Risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Middle-Aged Japanese Men,’” European Journal of Nutrition 53, no. 4 (April 9, 2014): 1135–1135, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-014-0680-5
- McMillen, Matt. “Is Drinking Diet Soda a Health Risk?” Edited by Brunilda Nazario, WebMD, WebMD, 5 May 2017, www.webmd.com/diet/news/20170505/diet-soda-health-risks.
- Mullee, A., Romaguera, D., Pearson-Stuttard, J., Viallon, V., Stepien, M., Freisling, H., Fagherazzi, G., Mancini, F. R., Boutron-Ruault, M. C., Kühn, T., Kaaks, R., Boeing, H., Aleksandrova, K., Tjønneland, A., Halkjær, J., Overvad, K., Weiderpass, E., Skeie, G., Parr, C. L., . . . Murphy, N. (2019). Association Between Soft Drink Consumption and Mortality in 10 European Countries. JAMA Internal Medicine, 179(11), 1479. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.2478
- Bian, X., Chi, L., Gao, B., Tu, P., Ru, H., & Lu, K. (2017). The artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium affects the gut microbiome and body weight gain in CD-1 mice. PLOS ONE, 12(6), e0178426. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178426
- Nettleton, J. E., Reimer, R. A., & Shearer, J. (2016). Reshaping the gut microbiota: Impact of low calorie sweeteners and the link to insulin resistance? Physiology & Behavior, 164, 488–493. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.04.029
- Diet soda uses artificial sweeteners to offer its drinkers a “healthier alternative”
- There is nothing healthy about a diet soda because there is nothing nutritional about a diet soda
- Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame-K give diet soda its sweet taste with none of the calories
- OLIPOP tastes just like the soda you grew up sipping, but with the added benefit of microbiome and digestive health support
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